I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Starship Troopers: Invasion

Remember how they made two DTV sequels to STARSHIP TROOPERS? Now there’s a new one, but I think the world will be sharply divided over whether we consider this part 4 or not. It does continue the futuristic bug war star trooping of Captain Carmen Ibanez (originally Denise Richards, now Luci Christian), master psychic Carl “It’s afraid!” Jenkins (originally Neil Patrick Harris, now Justin Doran) and Johnny Rico (now promoted to General). But one thing they did different, they gave it to the Japanese animation director Shinji Aramaki (APPLESEED) to computer it up. Now instead of deliberately white bread humans it’s creepy Real Doll type animated characters sort of along the lines of FINAL FANTASY and those types of computer animated pictures.

Casper Van Dien, who returned as Rico in part 3, is credited as an executive producer (as is Ed Neumeier, sitting out writing duties for the first time in the series). And I was convinced that Van Dien was doing the voice for Rico, the only character made to sort of look like the original actor (though upgraded with badass eyepatch and facial scars). I didn’t notice a name on the credits, but all other sources claim it’s a prolific anime dubber named David Matranga. Still, I choose to believe! To me, General Johnny Rico is played by Casper Van Dien 2.0.

Do they know this looks like the covers for those shitty ROBOT JOX spin-offs that Full Moon used to make?

But he doesn’t come in until later. It starts with this team of elite troopers on a starship that have to troop over to another starship to troop against a bunch of giant star bugs, or whatever. It’s like a space station that got infested with those bugs. I don’t know if you remember this, but it used to be that fans of the Robert A. Heinlein book could not appreciate the great movie that was made out of their book because it didn’t have flying robot suit things that were apparently in the book. Well I think now they might be wearing the robot suits, because they all got this bulky metal armor and sometimes it makes them jump high. So congratulations fellas, here is a not nearly as good movie that you will like better because of the clothes they wear.

One thing I noticed about the robot suits: special emphasis on the metal butt cheeks.


The troopers all have nicknames like “Ice Blond” and “Ratzass” that are stenciled onto the front of their helmets so that we can try to tell them apart. I noticed one guy had kind of a monster face painted onto his helmet, but if they all had flair like that I didn’t spot it. Luckily one girl, Trig (Emily Neves), likes to take off the armor and just wear a sleek sleeveless thing. Also Captain Ibanez shows up and she’s doesn’t wear the armor, she has a pretty stylish uniform that shows off her (computer generated) womanly attributes and looks like it’s made out of foam rubber.

I gotta tell you that during the first 10-15 minutes I was kinda thinking I wasn’t gonna watch the whole thing. So it’s a compliment to say that by the end I was kinda into it. The script by Flint Dille (Garbage Pail Kids cartoon, Mr. T cartoon, video games) does a couple fun things. There’s a guy who practices kung fu, so then we know it’s him when one of the metal suits starts doing kung fu. Carl – who’s now Minister of Paranormal Warfare – looks, sounds and behaves way more blatantly evil than in live action, but at the end they all have to treat him like he’s their buddy, since they are on the same side and did grow up with him.

The best new character is Trig. She bravely crawls through a vent to kill a queen bug or something, and tells a dude he can’t go with her because he wouldn’t fit (he probly doesn’t know he could take the armor off). Trig is a great marskwoman and she counts off each bug she kills as she tries to reach a certain number for revenge purposes. (SPOILER: I was actually kinda touched when she was killed and the other guy picked up her gun and continued the count for her).

They play a little bit with the prosthetic limbs introduced in Verhoeven’s movie. There’s a scene where two troopers bond over one giving the other guy arm-replacement surgery. It turns out the surgeon had never really done it before. The robot arm is pretty shitty, because the military is cheap, but the guy doesn’t mind.

Other than that though there’s not many hints of Verhoeven’s satire, and that’s clearly a bigger mistake than switching over to computery animation. If Verhoeven had made the straight forward star war movie that sci-fi readers wanted back in 1997 it might have been pretty cool (he is a good director, after all), but I doubt most of us would give a shit now. The reason why we remember it so well is that it’s was pulpy, audaciously-violent-for-its-time sci-fi fun that also is completely sarcastic, gleefully throwing propaganda in our faces to make us realize that maybe we shouldn’t be rooting for these young people to lose their body parts and lives in the name of avenging a giant space bug that the government says farted a meteor at us. It’s awesome and it’s funny and it’s one-of-a-kind, and then you take that out of it and it’s guys shooting at giant bugs. Not as special, in my opinion.

The live action DTV sequels tried to keep a little bit of that edge, especially part 3 (directed by Neumeier), where one of the characters was a celebrity for singing a propaganda anthem. This one only pays homage to it by having a character say “Would you like to know more?” As foreplay.

There’s at least an attempt to be a little Verhoevian. Early on there’s a bunch of CGI tits and ass. They still have the co-ed showers, and we learn that one guy uses his psychic powers to know when one of his co-troopers is in there and he can take a look. Ibanez gets a private shower away from the leering eyes of psychic dudes… but not away from us, because there’s totally gratuitous butt and boob shots as she grimaces and thinks while showering. (In a PG-13 movie she would’ve just been staring dramatically out the window.)

One bit I liked is when they show up at a space station after a massacre. Parts of chopped up bodies, intestines and shit hanging out, and globs of blood are floating around weightlessly. I wish there was more like that.

Another detail I liked, there was a “lens” used mostly for the exterior space shots that looked like it had some condensation on it. A subtle simulated equipment flaw that adds subconscious realism. They also had different times where bug blood gets splattered on the lenses, but we’ve seen that before (including in BLADE II).

There’s obviously an incredible amount of designing and rendering that goes into making a movie like this, but it’s similar enough to various video games and Japanese comput-ime that there’s still sort of a been-there-done-that weighing it down. For a while it seems like they switched to computering without taking advantage of it, like they were gonna still use the same bugs and ships and limited settings as they would in a live action DTV, but with bulkier armor and creepier faces. But eventually it really kicks into gear, they make it onto a huge ship, Johnny Rico starts bringing in different weapons and vehicles. There are some drop ship things that are animated to look like upside down NASA rocket footage. Rico has the best vehicle, a robot suit like those things in THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS except with wheels on the feet so it can drive around fast and chainsaws for hands (which he makes good use of). It gets pretty exciting when he runs up the tongue of a giant bug and stabs it in the eyeball. (I noticed it wasn’t the same eyeball that he himself lost. But I still bet it has some special significance to him.)

Unfortunately I think the movie needs way more of that over-the-top-ness, and it needs to go way further with it than it does. The lack of humans has a distancing effect that demands it. Hell, even if it was live action it’s been 15 years since the first one. It needed to be pretty fuckin extreme to get a rise out of us, to keep making us think I can’t believe I’m really seeing this. If it had been completely balls to the wall – no, actually we need balls through the wall – it might’ve been something special. Instead it’s something passable. But sometimes that’s better than nothing.

I don’t know that comput-ime is the way to go with these DTV sequels to studio movies, but my they should try doing some for ROAD HOUSE, CRUEL INTENTIONS, WILD THINGS, WALKING TALL, etc.


VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 29th, 2012 at 2:03 am and is filed under Cartoons and Shit, Reviews, Science Fiction and Space Shit. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

94 Responses to “Starship Troopers: Invasion”

  1. I wonder, is this the first all CGI animated movie to have nudity? I can’t think of another example even among other comput-imes

    and if you ask me, it’s about damn time

    by the way, Luci Christian is a popular anime voice actress, just felt like mentioning that

  2. I dunno, I’ll probably see this because I’ve sat through the previous three movies, read the book, seen some of the animated series, etc. — but at least it sounds okay. I also like how Casper Van Dien has become such a mainstay of this series, when it always felt as though Verhoeven had picked him for the first film almost in mockery of his chiselled looks and quiffy hair. He’s always seemed a pretty likeable actor/guy to me, so good for him for turning into an extended gig.

    As for the combat suits, I never quite understood why some fans of the book were so uptight about that. Er, forget the suits, how about how the films completely subvert the book’s politics and point? It’s pretty clear that Verhoeven’s film was done in reponse to — rather than adaptation of — the book, attacking its central message about the joys of discipline, militarism, corporal punishment, etc. In fact, I think I read recently (perhaps in Empire) that Verhoeven could only stand a few pages of the book before he chucked it in the bin and decided to go his own way. Perhaps he didn’t get to the part with the suits.

    For me, the differences between Verhoeven’s original and the book only add to both. Both are good fun on their own, but put them in argument with each other, and it’s a brilliantly weird, cross-media sort of double-bill. Helps you think about your own position on the political spectrum, and all that.

    Anyway, what I really meant to say was: “Come on, you apes. You want to live forever?”

  3. Sequels? We don’t need no steenking sequels! It’s been 15 years since the original… a perfectly acceptable interval to launch the remake/reboot/reimagining. Just keep the budget on a short leash, and don’t let Uwe Boll direct it.

    Still, finding a decent replacement for Michael Ironside is gonna be a bitchtits assignment. Good luck with that one.

  4. I’m trying to think of other adaptations where the film makes fun of the source material. The only other one I can think of right now is Green Hornet, which I didn’t really like because of that very reason (I always tell people “What if they did the same thing to Batman?” Then they stop laughing and get all offended).

    Obviously there’s a right way to do it (Starship Troopers) and a wrong way to do it.

    As for turning sexually charged movies in Comput-ime’s, just yesterday I was reading about this video game called Rapelay in which it’s the player’s goal to stalk and rape a mother and her two daughters. Oh, Japan.

  5. Also, I think I’m gonna call sex Rapelay from now on.

  6. Yes , when I first saw the original movie ( in this…quadrilogy now ?) , I enjoyed it for what it was , without thinking about the suits in the book . Well , I was disappointed , I wanted to see those things , but I figured , what the hell , I will give this a shot ….and it was funny and substantially different from the source material . It was a playful and sarcastic satire full of well made gore effects , and I also liked the sequels ( the third more than the second , so the “Van Dien Effect” works for me ) , and I consider it sort of a spin off from the canon of the book. But fanboys will always complain , even when the translation to the silver screen is a successful one . I know some people that still hate the Lord of the Rings books because there’s no Tom Bombadil. And this suits thing with Starship Troopers ? Okay it was not in the original movie , but it was introduced in the third one , and in the first cgi-animated series from a while back( I need to try that one , one of these days) , that are linked to the Verhoeven Universe, as sequel and spin-off , because the spiders design is the same.

    Now , if they don’t put the suits in the rumored Forever War adaptation , it’s a different story ….and I will be pissed.

  7. X-men made fun of it’s source material. Would you prefer yellow Spandex?

  8. “I’m trying to think of other adaptations where the film makes fun of the source material” – The Brady Bunch Movie – Starsky & Hutch

  9. People who think that a film should simply be a visual duplicate of the book have zero insight into the cinematic language and should just fuck off.

    Seriously, I’ll fuckin deck a fanboy if he comes to me with that Tom Bombadil bullshit.

  10. Yes , I know at least two longtime Tolkien fans that will simply not watch the movies again because the Bombadil Omission , and they also constantly bitch because the movie deleted Glorfindel , another powerful Elf ( with a single scene in Fellowship of the Ring….that was given to Liv Tyler). Granted , both are Tolkien fanatics ( no shit , they also have a book called “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil” , which , apparently , is a real , existing thing ……see Peter Jackson ? You failed , because I smell “spin-off” right here), but sometimes I want to kick them in the balls.

  11. The Original... Paul

    August 29th, 2012 at 11:11 am

    “Sequels? We don’t need no steenking sequels! It’s been 15 years since the original… a perfectly acceptable interval to launch the remake/reboot/reimagining.”

    NO. JUST NO. Don’t even say stuff like this, man. You might start giving the wrong people ideas.

    That is all.

  12. Knox Harrington – but that’s a video game, I’m asking about whether there has ever been nudity in a CGI movie and I think this one might be the first

  13. I dunno about actual legit CGI movie nudity but I have noticed a recent proliferation of CGI porn. It’s…….strange. I suppose they couldn’t find an actual human woman to have sex with a nine foot demon-orc-thing so they had to resort to technological means. Nature found a way.

  14. The thing is the Mobile Infantry Armor suit bits in the book were fantastic. And I think they inspired the whole Japanese giant robot suit thing, like Gundam. So this is paying it back.

    Still love the Verhoven movie.

  15. Like the kickboxer in SNAKES ON A PLANE, the Kung fu trooper only kicks one bug. Fuckin’ waste.

    I’m just not turned on by cgi boobs. Is something wrong with me? Though I was bummed we didn’t get to see Trig’s tits.

    I agree there we some battles exciting enough for one viewing, but way too straight and generic to be a genuine like.

  16. I just watched the third film the other day, so I guess I’m ready for the CGI version. I have heard rumors of a remake of Starship Troopers. The producer claimed that he wanted to make it more serious, without all of the intrusive critiques of permanent warfare and fascism. Would you like to know more?: http://www.avclub.com/articles/starship-troopers-reboot-to-be-less-violent-and-mo,81901/

    The producer also says, and you can’t make this shit up, “Y’know, one man’s fascism is another man’s patriotism.” It sounds like this is the kind of film that the original Starship Troopers was railing against. I just hope that the failure of Total Recall makes them rethink their approach.

  17. Oh, they’re making this reboot. They are. We are now in an age where they are remaking satires, but removing the satire: Robocop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers and American Psycho are all being/have been remade, sans socio-political commentary. And I feel like there are others that I am just forgetting…

  18. Obviously I meant DEATH RACE 2000.

    But I’d watch DEATH WISH 2000, too, as long as it was set in the year 2000 as imagined by the people of 1973.

  19. What was the AMERICAN PSYCHO remake? Did I miss anything?

  20. I think it’s in reference to the DTV sequel AMERICAN PSYCHO II: ALL AMERICAN GIRL.

  21. No. David Fincher’s protege is making a microbudget modern-set American Psycho remake. This was announced months ago.

  22. I’m only now realizing how disappointed I am that other countries didn’t do their own versions of AMERICAN PSYCHO the way they did with THE OFFICE. JAPANESE PSYCHO is a no-brainer.

    Then again, maybe we should be grateful the world was spared SERBIAN PSYCHO.

  23. “I’m trying to think of other adaptations where the film makes fun of the source material. The only other one I can think of right now is Green Hornet, which I didn’t really like because of that very reason (I always tell people “What if they did the same thing to Batman?” Then they stop laughing and get all offended).”
    The Adam West Batman movie kinda made fun of Batman, albeit in a much more good-natured way by being silly(a lot like the animated series “Brave and the Bold” which totally plays the 1950s/60s style Batman and other heroes for laughs)
    Also, the DOC SAVAGE movie is totally tongue in cheek.

  24. I never got the impression that anyone who ever made a Batman movie had much respect or fondness for the source material.

  25. STARSHIP TROOPERS was one of the best movie going experiences I ever had in my life. This is coming from someone who got to see T2 and JURASSIC PARK in all their big screen glory as a youngin. It was just the perfect movie for me to see entering my teens.

    Probably a big part as to why I didn’t ever think of enlisting. An anti-heavy handed propaganda classic and definitely one of the best satires of the past couple of decades. For those reasons though I never dared with any of the sequels. I just knew they’d come up short.

    There is only one Verhoeven and I think ROBOCOP remake is in trouble for the same reasons. He’s the only one to ever make the concept pop because he understood the inherent stupidity of it all and contrasted it beautifully with grit and wit. Everyone else has failed. Mostly because they forgot the core of ROBOCOP it’s about a corpse turned product regaining it’s humanity. Making him a corpse turned product again is why they went wrong. It’s also what makes the remake kinda unnecessary despite a great cast and a good but reportedly and not surprisingly bullied director.

  26. Mr. Majestyk – I agree. Burton and Nolan weren’t really comic book guys. The comics they did read though in Burton’s case (KILLING JOKE, DARK KNIGHT RETURNS and the early Kane/Finger Batman comics) and Nolan (the 89 DC secret origin comic, Denny O’Neill/Neil Adams comics, KNIGHTFALL and THE LONG HALLOWEEN) were clearly influential without fault to their visions though. So there was still some respect there but it definitely wasn’t something that they came in with as fanboys either. With Nolan it was a case of Goyer being a fanboy but I’ll never trust someone as incompetent at times as Goyer with a Batman movie on his own.

  27. I actually think that too much reverence for the source material will kill an adaptation. I’ve never read the Harry Potter books, but a lot of people tend to like the first two because they’re closer to the source material. But they’re also the worse movies in the series.

  28. I see what you’re saying there RBatty024, but in the case of Robocop I can’t even imagine how it could be better, so I can only hope they’re just remaking it with a different cast and modern effects. As usual I hate to derail, but the dearth of ideas in Hollywood that’s leading to all these remakes is quite sad. Robocop is a near-perfect movie with a superlative cast, both over-the-top and subtle in its ideas, gore and humor, and immensely rewatchable to this day. So in this one case where we’re too late to stop what should never have started, I’m hoping for absolute reverence lol

  29. As long as we’re on a derailment tip I wanted to thank Vern for the current Chief O’Brien Under Siege quote. As good as it looks written out though, Colm Meany’s emphasis and compressed reading of “cookin'” always gets me.

  30. I think that , if you’re going to adapt something like a book or a comic to the silver screen , it’s a good idea to try to add something new or look at the source material from a different angle. Today almost everyone knows who Batman is , but if you try to tell a new and original story with a well recognised character , with a respect for the character himself , you’re less likely to piss off longtime fans . I know that they’re doing an animated version of the Dark Knight Returns , one of the more famous stories written by Miller himself, and frankly I’m not looking forward to it , because I alreday know how that particular tale ends, and I don’t see the point , because even you you try to change things up , you’re still going to piss off a lot of people . They’re not trying to tell a new story with the character , they’re trying to tell an old story in another way , with less space for new ideas and for originality. on the other hand , I’ve seen John Carter from Disney , and I was entertained enough to track down the book and read it . It was all worth it , because the movie is very different from the book , both in tone and story , and the book is even better , so good job to everyone involved : the movie was a gateway to the source material , but was different , so I can also enjoy my books , now that the movie bombed and there’s no hope for sequels.

  31. I think the WATCHMEN movie was better for some of the fan-enraging changes it made. From smaller detail things, like the costumes, to plot things(replacing The Squid with something that fit the story’s theme better and made more logical sense). They shoulda kept in the joke about the “movie cowboy ” “RR” running for president actually being Robert Redford though.

  32. Oh man…the Robocop:Redux script…oh man. It’s pretty fuckin’ awful. But it does have a pretty cool sounding third act. It’s not a satire, however. Well, it kinda is. The filmmakers knew that people expected satire from Robocop, so they changed it from being a satire about media corruption into simply being a media satire that makes fun of the Hollywood process. This is stupid on two levels because A: it doesn’t make sense with this story and B: political satires have a stronger history at the box office than do Hollywood satires.

    Samuel L. Jackson is playing Rush Limbaugh, however. So, that might be funny.

    At the end of the movie, when the remaining bad guys go to jail, it isn’t even a privatized prison. Which says a lot when you consider that privatization was one of the main targets of the original.

  33. WHAT? Robocop Badguys don’t go to Jail! They get shot full of holes AND fall out of a skyscraper!

  34. I never understood the need of reading scripts beforehand. Why ruining a movie experience? Anyway, I don´t think the shooting script makes all the difference. As an example, I started to read the TAXI DRIVER screenplay on the dvd and went thinking ” Oh man, the dialogue is terrible!”. But in fact it is theb template for the filmmakers. its what happens on set between the director and the actors that can make the difference. in the end, TAXI DRIVER did not turn out to have bad dialogue,did it?

  35. Robocop is one of those movies where it makes no sense whatsoever to remake, I mean what could you possibly add?

    Hollywood’s obsession with remakes is flat out getting creepy at this point, since it seems like it’s getting to the point where it doesn’t even make financial sense, the Total Recall remake flopped and yet I’m sure that wont stop the Robocop remake and the Starship Troopers remake

    it’s like Hollywood would rather have a flop remake on their hands rather than a successful original movie just because they have a sick fetish for remakes, I mean fucking WHY?

    if I was a conspiracy theorist I would say that it’s to intentionally dumb people down by stifling creativity or these movies are making profits some way other than actual box office grosses, is Hollywood these days just a big fucking scam?

    I’ll point you guys toward this http://redlettermedia.com/half-in-the-bag/jack-and-jill/

  36. I meant the shooting script is the template for the rest of the filmmakers to flesh out and expand upon which is what they usually do….hopefully

  37. It’s damn near impossible to achieve the sort of tone that Verhoeven manages to eck out. His movies are balanced on the razors edge of serious characterization and absurdist satire. I can think of few films that can match his mastery of tone (one possible exception is Dr. Strangelove). In a lot of ways the themes of Robocop are even more relevant now than they were in the 80s. Because of this there’s an opportunity for someone to update the film and not embarrass himself. But I recently read the McWeeny script review, and I have to say that I’m disappointed. They went for the easy Hollywood satire instead of a a satire of capitalism. They probably figured that they wouldn’t piss off as many people that way. But if you look at the history of Hollywood satires, you’ll notice that they’re mostly box office failures. Nobody outside of a small coterie of individuals (like ourselves) actually cares about the intricacies of making a film.

  38. I bet the Darren Aronofsky version would have been amazing. And that’s probably why they didn’t want to make it.

  39. How did what they replaced the Squid with fit the theme of the story better in WATCHMEN? I’m curious cause I certainly didn’t think so. I think WATCHMEN was weak actually for the most part because it was TOO faithful at points. I like adaptations to be just that ADAPTATIONS not something ripped straight from the page. I like to see the themes and mythos of the source material be filtered and remixed by a cinematic visionary in an interesting way that fits the cinematic medium.

  40. Also, Murphy knows who he is from the gitgo. And it’s public knowledge who he was. And his family knows. And he *chooses* to be Robocop. And OCP has him as a human instead of a full robot – even though the robot is in control while he’s fighting – because of liability issues if he were to shoot somebody on accident. But then they only give him a taser gun. And the Boddicker-style villain dies, off screen. During act two.

    It does have Robo training in the Danger Room from X-Men, however. Which is cool. And the last 10 pages do achieve a certain sense of sad humanity.

  41. Holy shit that sounds pretty bad. I was going to sit the remake out anyway but wow.

  42. If they really took out the police state themes then why did they ship in the director of ELITE SQUAD 1-2 from Brazil? Obviously somebody involved is trying to do the right thing if they hired him. And don’t tell me they’re “trying to get geek cred” since 1) that’s not a real thing and 2) none of the “geek” writers know what the fuck Elite Squad is or bother to research things like that.

    I’m not saying the script sounds good, just hoping that whatever everybody’s reading is not really what they’re filming.

  43. I’m very excited about the Robocop remake. All the right elements and intentions are there to make an interesting new interpretation of the original’s themes, and I really like that they seem to be concentrating on the man vs. machine, robot-with-a-soul side of things. It’s more than possible to make a good satire-free version of the character. Also, I really like the guy they cast as Robocop. He’s gonna nail it.

    Robocop is one of my all-time favourite movies, so as long as these guys do their own thing and don’t try to blindly ape the original, I’m interested.

  44. The interesting thing to me about it that ties it to the original, is that it’s not straying away from relevant issues, IE the connection to drone technology that’s been bandied about before. The militarizing of the streets by the police force that was so silly and over-the-top in the third one from 1993, will seem a little more relevant and prescient 20 years later. That is if it’s done all right.

  45. The room for concern is not so much the script but the fact that Jose Padilha is supposedly being Finchered all over that set. It’s one thing to hire a promising visionary to take on your feature. It’s another to completely ignore any objections and suggestions he has about the feature you hired him to shepherd. This is why despite a great cast I’m ambivalent towards the whole thing. Producer driven productions that just hire promising filmmakers because they could easily step on their toes rarely pan out as something that was worth it. They usually end up being inglorious messes.

  46. I did not care for ELITE SQUAD at all, so about the only thing I’m looking forward to in ROBOCOP: REDUNDANCY is the fact that Michael Keaton is in it.

  47. Mr Majestyk, why didn’t you ELITE SQUAD?

  48. LIKE is the word missing in that sentence

  49. I just didn’t get into it at all. I’d rather watch a documentary on the subject than a bunch of shouting and shakycam and nonstop narration spelling out every little goddamn thing.

  50. Griff Remade: Pump Up the Volume

    September 1st, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Robocop is one of those movies that is in desperate need of updating for modern audiences. Like battered, beaten old Cop Murphy himself, Robocop Rising will take the original and transform it for a whole new generation using the miraculous tools of today’s state-of-the-art cinema.

    Hollywood knows which films you value, and it is our sworn mission to refurbish your childhood memories with luxurious new models of your all-time favorites in a way that is fun for the whole family. You can bet we’ll never once lose sight of why you visit the cinema: to have fun!

    Audiences swooned when they were fully immersed in the never-before-seen environment of Clash of the Titans (2012), leaving the clunky toy-box world of the original a distant memory! They thrilled to the genre homage of House of Wax (2005) while being given the honor of witnessing the most charismatic celebrity of the new millennium make her big screen debut! The obsolete language of your grandfather’s hard boiled Gone in 60 Seconds was given a ultra cool paint job and detailing in the 2000 remake starring human dynamo Angelina Jolie! Clunky, slow originals with too much talk are a distant memory once you’ve seen modern renovations of The Omen (2006), The Hitcher (2007), The Haunting (1999), When A Stranger Calls (2006) and Black Christmas (2006).

    Obscure, unnecessarily difficult films get translated for modern sensibilities in City of Angels (1998), Get Carter (2000), Alfie (2004) and Vanilla Sky (2001). The imagination reels at the thought of what Kubrick, Godard and Lynch’s movies would look like through the eyes of today’s superstar directors like Brett Ratner and Michael Bay!

    The multiplex is always the hottest place to be when pop icon Madonna lights up the screen! And, boy, the dialogue of Swept Away (2002) sure has zest when the audience isn’t tripping of annoying subtitles! Federico Fellini must be green with envy!

    Sure, you’ve cherished performances by Sellers, Heston and Wilder in the past. But now it’s time for a new generation to step into those comfy old slippers with dazzling new casts like Martin, Walhberg and Depp, legends who speak to the go-go values of today’s youth.

    I’ll point you guys toward geek celebrity Harry Knowles’ glowing review of Godzilla (1998), a true benchmark in modern criticism!

  51. what kind of funny business do you think your trying to pull Griff Remade: Pump Up the Volume?

  52. I’m with Knox and onthewall. It doesn’t sound like it’s gonna turn out right, but the IDEA of remaking ROBOCOP is not a bad one. You’ve probly seen me point this out before, but ROBOCOP was years before Rodney King even happened. More than a decade before WTO. There’s so much more to do with the privatization and militarization of the police force, and hiring the director of ELITE SQUAD is a signal that that’s what they’re interested in. Considering the director and the impossibility of competing with Verhoeven I actually don’t think it should be a satire, it should be a more serious treatment of these issues. But it sounds like what they’re doing is reeplacing some of the dark, the-truth-hurts humor with dumb references.

    At least they got drones in there. And Michael Keaton. And it’s not CGI like Starship Troopers Invasion.

  53. I’ve seen all the RoboCop movies, and some of the TV episodes, and this character works as a hero even without the politics of Verhoeven (which went over the head of most fans of the first movie anyway). Hell, he’s the Kojak of super heroes!

  54. But is it Robocop then? Does the brand recognition bring enough to the table rather than making a new cyborg cop movie to tackle those other issues? I’m no fan of Robocop 3 or the kids toy image the Robocop brand devolved into after its initial arcade game, an while most trash Robocop 2 it has its moments and at least is rated R like the original which is a satire with straight-up humor as well. Does the Robocop brand need to be sullied further. I guess there’s even some nostalgia in me for Orion so seeing two other studios prepare to blaspheme a classic after so many years makes me wonder what really is the point?

  55. Broddie-“How did what they replaced the Squid with fit the theme of the story better in WATCHMEN? I’m curious cause I certainly didn’t think so. I think WATCHMEN was weak actually for the most part because it was TOO faithful at points. I like adaptations to be just that ADAPTATIONS not something ripped straight from the page. I like to see the themes and mythos of the source material be filtered and remixed by a cinematic visionary in an interesting way that fits the cinematic medium.”
    Well a major theme of the Watchmen story is the effect superheroes had on the world. It plays more into that to have it be the world’s ONLY superpowered being what warring countries are afraid of and band together against rather than make up a weird fake alien with a telepathic bomb made from “the brains of psychically sensitive individuals” which are just casually dropped into things out of nowhere, despite the fact that Manhattan is meant to be the only person in the world with actual POWERS. Also, having those attacks happen all over the world rather than in one city makes the idea of the USSR wanting to call a truce more believable to me, and Manhattan is a much more persistent looming threat since he’s still out there. It’s not like Ozymandias was going to have more squids made up so he could keep the world on it’s toes. Also, the Squid thing is much easier to suspend disbelief about in a comic, because that was made for an audience used to that sort of thing, whereas even today, superhero adaptations haven’t yet gone all out weird and crazy with things yet(see the approach to the Phoenix in the X Men movies).

  56. “2) none of the “geek” writers know what the fuck Elite Squad is or bother to research things like that.”
    Maybe I’m misinterpreting this, Vern, but why does there seem to be this belief that “geeks” and “nerds” aren’t into straight action movies? In my experience, there’s quite an overlap due to “geeks” being “MOVIE geeks” in general. I’ve sort of seen this attitude were there’s a kind of “us vs. them” mentality about old-school actions movies vs. modern comic book/sci-fi blockbusters, even though the fans of both are more alike than you probably think. If people aren’t aware of what Elite Squad is, it’s probably more because it’s a NON-american movie than it’s subject matter. Even people all excited I know all excited about the Expendables who do fantasy casting for sequels don’t really have wide an knowledge in terms of stuff like Asian action stars and DTV stars of today. I’ll bet there’s a ton of people who loved EX 1 and 2 who never watched The Raid either, yet would call themselves fans of action movies just based on liking Stallone/Schwarzenegger type faire.

  57. Stu, I agree. (WATCHMEN SPOILERS) Framing Manhattan instead of the manufacturing a fake alien invasion is better for the reasons you mentioned and because it creates a perception of Manhattan as a god like figure that is always watching and all knowing that should be feared by the people of earth if they do not behave. Oz gave the planet earth religion to keep them in line.

  58. The script I read is definitely an intermediary draft. There are several major plot threads that never come to fruition and act 3 is almost like an entirely different (and vastly superior) movie. I’ve been told that the director is being kept away from the script, but I don’t know that that is entirely true because there is an extended action sequence featuring a bus full of hostages, ala Padhila’s Bus 187.

    I will say that the script’s most egregious feature is the grammar and spelling. I think this might have been a draft from the middle of a long series of quick rewrites because there are misspellings aplenty, incorrect word-usage in the dialogue, incorrect underlines everywhere, words that are only half italicized, idiotic parentheticals, and the whole thing is 128 pages long.

    This film follows the basic template or Robocop, but it mainly feels like the original only during Act IIA and the beginning of Act IIB, wherein Robocop goes around fighting crime with no clear objective until he runs headlong into the bad guys who murdered him during a chance encounter. The problem is, that 20-30 page stretch is clearly the weakest part of the original. And here it’s just longer. And Robocop isn’t shooting real bullets…

    Also, you remember how the original had some of the best gore effects ever during Murphy’s extended and extremely painful death sequence and how that sequence simultaneously shattered all expectations for a film called, “Robocop” while also slyly establishing the extended Jesus metaphor that would play out over the rest of the film? Well, in the remake, Murphy dies OFF SCREEN, but we keep the Jesus metaphor because when he turns into a robot, he has some trouble walking and falls flat on his back with his arms out. The writer even made sure to clue us in that this was a Jesus pose.

    I’m pretty sure that they changed it to a legal defense that Robocop was still human so that it would make sense that ED-209 and EM-110 (named after the writers or the original) would be a threat during the climactic battle.

    I’m not anti-remake. I happen to think that Dawn of the Dead, Hills Have Eyes, Piranha, Straw Dogs, The Ring, The Departed, King Kong and a slew of other remakes are really darn good. However, those films took their respective original’s conceits (and in the case of HHE, Straw Dogs’ original conceit) and built something new. Robocop doesn’t do that. It’s impossible for me not to compare RebootCop to the original because the remake KEEPS REFERENCING THE ORIGINAL overtly, but in a condescending manner. The original Robocop suit is mocked with the line, “I *wouldn’t* buy that for a dollar!” in one scene. Seriously.

    The opening ten pages do an interesting thing with the ‘continuous stream’ concept, barraging us with different types of media and crosscutting between them. Lewis has a superior character arc compared to the original version of the character, who was entirely subordinate in her role, and the last 30 pages have some great action and a surprisingly heartfelt and complex final scene. And in a HHE style riff, part of the plot ends up coming from Blade Runner, the design of which helped to inspire the original film.

    I’m not saying that ReBootCop will suck. They have a great team for it, an R-rated approach (I think…), a cast full of awesome character actors, a budget 10 times that of the original and about 40% of the script is actually kinda interesting. I’m certain that what I read is not the shooting draft, so there is time for improvement. But…they ain’t there yet. And I can’t imagine that this script would inspire a new franchise.

  59. Oh, and there is a really weird element that needs to be cut because it would save 20 pages and make the story less dumb; there are 3 characters who act as an unintentional Greek Chorus, constantly commenting on Robocop’s motivations and spelling out plot elements that are in no way confusing.

  60. “It’s not like Ozymandias was going to have more squids made up so he could keep the world on it’s toes.”

    Uhhh…yes. Like, that is literally the point. Rorschach is a reactionary, fascist leaning bastard with despicable morals and questionable motivations…and he’s 100% right. And Ozymandias is the well meaning enlightened liberal with the world’s best interest in mind…and he’s totally evil.

    Of COURSE he will have to keep sending Squid creatures, that’s the only way the plan works. The world will quickly stop being afraid of the enemy and go back to fighting, so Ozy will keep killing people by the 10s of millions as the equivalent of sacrifices to the volcano gods.

  61. The squid is the point at which an excellent comic book became a work of literary genius. Up until that point Watchmen was a just clever deconstruction of the medium. But then it became something else – it became self aware. It made it clear that it KNEW it was a deconstruction of comics but was also not ashamed to actually BE a comic. It was a big fuck you from Moore to anyone that thought what they held in their hands was somehow better than the kind of material that it was deconstructing. The comic you were reading grew up and matured as you were reading it until in that moment it achieved a kind of sentience – it knew what it was and it knew where it came from and it paid respectful homage to all the comics that came before it so that it might exist. It was fucking beautiful.

    But whatever, that’s just the way I see it.

  62. It wasn’t so much about the threat, it was about coming up with something SO FUCKING BIZARRE that it forced a planet full of people to alter their entire worldview. The Manhattan thing does not do this, since he is essentially a man-made phenomenon.

  63. “Of COURSE he will have to keep sending Squid creatures, that’s the only way the plan works. The world will quickly stop being afraid of the enemy and go back to fighting, so Ozy will keep killing people by the 10s of millions as the equivalent of sacrifices to the volcano gods.”
    He’d HAVE TO, but no, he’s not going to. Afterwards, everything he says and does exudes him having done what he set out to do, and now he has to live with himself for it. That’s what him alluding to the Tales From The Black Freighter(saying he’s been dreaming about going off to join the crew of a ship)means. Not to mention the fact that if he was going to keep doing this…why did he kill everyone who helped him do it the first time and who’d be needed to repeat it? He murdered everyone who designed and constructed the thing. Not to mention, where’s he going to keep getting psychic people brains from?

  64. Mode7 – “It wasn’t so much about the threat, it was about coming up with something SO FUCKING BIZARRE that it forced a planet full of people to alter their entire worldview. The Manhattan thing does not do this, since he is essentially a man-made phenomenon.”

    Not to mention that Manhattan is by proxy a representation of America in the eyes of the world. If he snapped like that I doubt the whole world would unite as opposed to everybody else just giving America the stink eye.

  65. Stu – that was what I was saying, the movie news sights I read are mostly people who ignore movies that take any effort to find or know about, only big American studio movies that advertise alot exist in their world. In the specific example of the ROBOCOP movie remake they don’t seem to know about ELITE SQUAD because they’re always speculating about the remake without ever bringing Padhila and his filmography into the equation, even though it couldn’t possibly be more relevant to the material. This also came up recently in Billy the Kidd’s review of THE TALL MAN where he never once mentioned it was the writer/director of MARTYRS.

    I was overstating it by saying “none” of them though, obviously that’s an unfair exaggeration. And I guess it’s mainly the new generation of Ain’t It Cool writers and maybe Slash Film who have been frustrating me with this lately, they’re the ones I’m thinking of writing Padhila-free ROBOCOP posts every other day. McWeeny and Faraci and Beaks do their research.

    And I don’t mean “geek” in a bad way either. I tend to gravitate to those types of sights more than the more highbrow ones, even though they piss me off. I wish there was more well-rounded coverage from people who appreciate a wider range of movies, but I guess that’s what I’m here for.

    p.s. Anybody else seen STARSHIP TROOPERS: INVASION?

  66. Not yet Vern, and while I love the original the second sequel was okay so I’ll be waiting for a bargain bin Blu-ray for this one. How’s that Forum everyone wanted working out?

  67. Thanks for the clarification, Vern.

    “Not to mention that Manhattan is by proxy a representation of America in the eyes of the world. If he snapped like that I doubt the whole world would unite as opposed to everybody else just giving America the stink eye.”
    That’s where Ozymandias’ setup has an increased purpose in the film though. In the comic, it was just to get him to leave Earth, but in the film it also shows his disconnect from humanity with how he reacts to the questions on the talk show and the news of his colleagues and friends contracting cancer, and ultimately ends with him severing ties with the US Government, then Earth by going to Mars. Which is really just an extension of how he relates to things anyway as his narration and comments indicates he’s not all that invested in the ideologies at conflict or really either side, he’s just letting events play out as he forsees them.
    Also it seems like there’s just too much that can go wrong with the Squid plan. You know the Government would examine the thing. Is Ozy so sure they wouldn’t figure out what the thing was? There’s no Marine biologist who’d recognise those as octopus tentacles?

  68. I write for Collider. I had seen both Elite Squad movies before the director was pulled for Robocop. I was also aware of his documentary on the bus shootings, though I had not (have not) seen it. Also, I first read about Elite Squad on a film geek website, then took notice when I saw a Deadline story about the massive grosses of the film, which excited my, “B-movies-embody-the-zeitgeist” sense.

    I also had conversations about Elite Squad with several other web guys, all of whom talked about the movie in a way that demonstrated that they had seen it. When he was announced as director for Robocop, most geek sights hailed it as a great move.

    I agree, especially looking at it from the inside, geek sights have questionable morals and disproportionately cover the worst movies just because they’re expensive. But, with that being said, I have never had my editor tell me to put a more positive spin on a story or refuse to run an article or review because of negative tone.

  69. Ozy is clearly wrong about the effects of the squid and will have to do it again and again, as we can see demonstrated in the parallels to organized religion that someone else drew earlier in the thread.

    The Israelites slaughtered the Caanaites and then they thought there would be peace forever in the promised land…A few thousand years later, the Europeans slaughtered the Native Americans and then thought there would be peace forever in the new promised land…And a million times and Crusades in between.

    Ozy’s plan is naive in equal measure to its’ arrogance and is doomed to fail. As a reader, your job is to think about what happens after the last page.

    By the way, I can’t wait to see this new Starship Troopers movie. It’s not at my Redbox yet, however.

  70. confidential to Fred Topel: See, Fred? Gawker making fun of Nic Cage for still using a real video store. But here’s Tawdry waiting for Starship Troopers 4 to show up in a metal box in a 7-11 parking lot. God forbid he wants King of Comedy like Nic Cage did. Let the market decide my ass.

  71. I saw ST:I. liked parts of it okay but didn’t care for it much, more for the animated nature or it than any STARSHIP TROOPERness. Despite Griff’s attempts at educating me, I have not warmed up to the anime style yet. But also the story was so not Neumeier, I wonder why they didn’t just hire him for continuity.

    Btw Griff Imposter, that is some fine writing. Very Jonathon Swift.

    Surely the next question I ask Nic Cage at a junket will be did he ever return King of Cmedy? If he paid the story $200 to keep it that is just as good.

  72. I’ll watch this one day just to see the CGI T&A

  73. »I gotta tell you that during the first 10-15 minutes I was kinda thinking I wasn’t gonna watch the whole thing. So it’s a compliment to say that by the end I was kinda into it.«

    I’ve felt the same when I watched ST:I at the Fantasy Filmfest a few days ago. I really didn’t like the look of the faces of the CGI characters, really distancing and creepy stuff. As soon as they used their helmets it was way easier to follow the action.

    What I really don’t understand: Why are there so many boring dialogue scenes in this film? In this CGI world there aren’t many limitations in scenery, action or camera movement. Thee only thing that pretty obviously doesn’t work: emotional dialogue scenes.

    The first act felt like some fan recreated a cheap life action movie with the engine of a computer game.

    In the second and especially the third act there is way more action, therefore it’s more watchable, sometimes even interesting. You get the impression that they realised during the making of the movie that CGI is not only a way to get rid of expensive actors.

    But in the end I don’t think they used the creative freedom of a CGI world good enough. I especially interesting action scenes, maybe filmed in a way that isn’t possible in live action.

  74. I don´t think “Brave and the Bold” is making fun of the original. There´s real love fo Silver Age Batman there.

  75. RebootCop is directed by José “Shaky-Cam” Padilha. I don´t like that.

  76. I’ve said this before, but I think we should be careful not to have automatic knee-jerk reactions when a film or filmmaker employs techniques that we don’t like most of the time.

    I can’t recall how severe the shaking of the camera was in Elite Squad, but it was definitely a film that benefited from its documentary aesthetic (unlike the shaky-cam fight scenes in Nolan’s Batman films, where it doesn’t fit at all and just comes across as bad visual communication).

    One of these days the trend will disappear and we’ll start nagging “Can’t they move the camera just a little bit? These fight scenes are so static and stale.”

    I generally don’t like shaky-cam or self-awareness or CGI blood in movies, but I didn’t mind the shaky-cam in the Bourne movies or the self-awareness in Cabin In The Woods or even the CGI blood in Rambo (which is strange, since I generally think that computer generated blood is the most depressing thing since plastic flowers). I guess there’s a time and place for everything.

  77. Oh, and I watched Starship Troopers 3: Marauder today. It’s fucking terrible, but since it was shot here in Cape Town (like so many shitty DTV sequels), I did enjoy recognizing a whole bunch of familiar faces, including a few local models I know getting their tits out.

    Still, horrible fucking movie.

  78. “including a few local models I know getting their tits out.”

    like, know personally? radical

  79. I say “radical”! That’s my thing that I say!

  80. Wow. Our very first gimmick poster.

    I know what you’re thinking, but AU doesn’t count because he’s like that in real life.

  81. I feel “honored” to have spawned our first gimmick poster

  82. You realize it’s probably just Tawdry fucking with you, right?

  83. My money’s on you, Majestyk.

  84. It’s not me. But thanks for the shout out? Am I the resident troll here? How come nobody told me?

  85. No, no, I didn’t suspect you because you have a history of trollishness. I just thought the Fake Griff’s posts had that mixture of post-modernism, industry scuttlebutt, and formal impudence I associate with the Tawdry Hepburn brand.

    I don’t think it’s me doing it, but if it is, I’m managing to do it right under my own nose, which means I’m even more devious than I’d suspected.

  86. Whoever’s doing it, though, is kind of a genius. The choice of Griff is inspired, as it’s his uniquely endearing guilelessness that sets him apart from the snark and cynicism of so many of the rest of us, myself included. So to upgrade him into a soulless shill knowingly pandering to the crassest aspects of modern filmatistical capitalism is a perfect comment on how Hollywood lacks even the most basic understanding of the appeal of the properties they’re “reimagining,” but also, since this is an inside joke maybe 15 people on earth will really get, showing how futile it is to reshape old properties into new forms when the audience you’re trying to sell them to doesn’t even know what they are in the first place.

    Or maybe Griff was just real easy to spell.

    Come to think of it, it’s probably Paul. Excessive length, no avatar, name never stays the same. Yeah, it’s Paul.

    I take it back. WORST. POSTS. EVER.

  87. “No, no, I didn’t suspect you because you have a history of trollishness. I just thought the Fake Griff’s posts had that mixture of post-modernism, industry scuttlebutt, and formal impudence I associate with the Tawdry Hepburn brand.”

    That’s the nicest thing anyone has said about me on the internet in maybe, ever. I would totally use that as a linked-in recommendation.

  88. I like the line that proposes that a bunch of crappy recent horror remakes have supplanted the originals. I swear I had forgotten that every single one of those remakes existed.

    The Simpsons quote suggests to me that Fake Griff is someone that followed Griff home from the AV Club. Those fuckers just can’t stop themselves.

  89. shit, I musta left the back-door open

  90. The ultimate spite was that this was about enough cgi-animation to complete the Roughnecks storyline, but nooo, instead they give us this.

    Still better than nothing. But also way more spiteful to the fans than nothing.

  91. Awwww I forgot I had an impostor and I’m kinda sad I haven’t seen him in a while.

    Yoo hoo! Mr Griff impostor, are you still there?

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